E-Newsletter | APRIL 2, 2020

Every business in the airline, hotel, gaming, events, and sports industries is asking the same three questions: “When will things be back to normal?” “How do we restore confidence so customers return?” and “What will the new normal look like?” Industry leaders are also asking, “How does this compare to 2001 and 2008, and what can we learn from that experience?” 

To get this right, we need to listen to your guests and customers in different ways. Surveys by themselves, or qualitative interviews alone, are insufficient.  We need to know what people are thinking, why they are thinking it, and how many are thinking it . For this we’ve initiated a three-pronged strategy: 

  • Quantitative online tracking survey of 500 respondents with aggregate “Confidence Barometer,” drawn from component measures of perceived comfort, challenges and connection

  • Ongoing qualitative in-depth interviews to bring the customers’ emotions to life

  • Ongoing scraping and analysis of real time/unprompted social media conversation within the target audience to hear what consumers are saying to one another

Read more about what we are doing  HERE   

Our benchmark wave of consumer tracking research was conducted March 30-April 1 with a nationally representative and projectable sample of sports fans, participants and active travelers/ resort and casino enthusiasts.  Stable bases were recruited across each of several condition specific categories for all major sports.

Here are just a few topline highlights from the benchmark quantitative research:

  •  Levels of consumer concern and uncertainty are at unprecedented levels not seen since the financial crisis of 2008/2009.  A strong majority believes that we are in recession and that is translating into trepidation and classic belt tightening.  Just over a third of respondents strongly agree that “I am confident that I will have enough money to retire in comfort.”  This is down 37% from this January and on par with what we observed in 2009. A majority does not see the country being “open for business” before June.

  • The appetite for travel is acutely suppressed---The incidence of those who currently plan to take a major vacation this year, is off 40% from what we observed in our January sports omnibus, and off 44% from what we measured at the peak of the financial crisis. Those who currently consider taking a vacation of over 500 miles a family priority is 30% lower than what we observed in a similar study that we conducted on September 28th of 2001, right after the tragic events of 9/11.  As we saw in 2001 and 2009, it is likely that these sentiments will shift as we make our way through the current crisis.  We will be tracking this. 

  • On the positive side, we are already seeing strong latent demand build to get out and do things.  55% strongly agree that “It’s important for my life to include a variety of unique experiences.  That’s up from 41% in January and even exceeds what we observed during the last recession.  We also still see stability in respondent’s willingness to not let price get in the way of buying things that they really want.  Respondents are still bullish about the medium to long term—a majority see the economy returning to economic growth and adding jobs before year, end and optimistic about the future of America.

  • There remains a large unfulfilled appetite for sports to watch as the interruption has created a significant void. The NFL, NBA, MLB and NASCAR are doing the best job of keeping fans engaged during this time of disruption.

  • Golfers are divided on whether courses should remain open for play, even with social distancing and other precautions encouraged— More than ¼ played within the last two weeks, but only 16% strongly feel that they are likely to play within the next week.  That aside, golf is still seen as a coveted oasis. 

  • New way of life?—a majority are strongly concerned of a second COVID wave in the fall requiring additional event cancellations and lockdowns.

  • What will bring people back?—Varies by activity but 75%+ require multiple conditions.  Most impactful—Approval of a COVID-19 vaccine; Assurance from a reputed national medical authority that it is safe to do so; Approval of a pharmaceutical protocol to mitigate the effects of COVID 19; Govt. Assurance.  Less impactful—Assurance from the media or the individual properties.  People won’t necessarily come back quickly—A majority within 2 months of all clear; 10-15% immediately.  Quickest snap backs are initially seen for live sports, movies and commercial flights.
Additional Topline Analysis—
For an initial look at one of our upcoming aggregate tracking measures that examines opportunity scores for each sport, based on measured levels of deprivation and anticipation,  CLICK HERE
For a look at some of the more interesting comparative attitudinal trends between now and the last recession/9-11,  CLICK HERE    

We will be providing updates and links to additional findings and highlights from the other phases of the Back to Normal Barometer as well as subsequent tracking waves.  Feel free to  CONTACT US
WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND?—Results from Last Week’s Research with Our Readers

Thanks to all of you who participated .   More readers are concerned than not about the economic impact of COVID-19, but you maintain optimism about a quick rebound once things get going again by mid Summer.
SLRG’S Last to address Consumer Attitudes and Economic Implications for the industry
You can learn more about this virtual conference, and register  HERE